Tag Archives: creative

Falling back in love with my product

19 Feb

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It’s been a long year. I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve had the trials and tribulations, I’ve faced having to give up on my dream, and I’ve really come to find what start-up stress can be.

Over the last six months my mentors at Accelerate Cambridge have pushed me hard – marketing, team building, raising finance, developing sales pipelines, market segmentation, partnerships and product development – something I will be forever grateful for.

Thanks to them I’ve been able to concentrate on not only creating an amazing product, but at the same time a sustainable business. A lot of people believe that if a product is incredible then there’s no need for a business. I’ve found this to not be true. Creating value propositions, promotional documents, websites, sales structures and pitches – these all help you to identify, reach and streamline the purchasing experience for the customer, helping them from “Oh I’ve never heard of this!” to “This product is awesome”.

Without defining your customer, how you will find them, how they will find you, how you will make enough money to keep improving the product, etc – much less people will be able to enjoy what you create.

That being said the last two weeks I’ve been slowly realising how I’d gradually been falling out of love with my product Rize – (app integrating therapeutic concepts into interactive exercises to support mental well-being). My thoughts have been engrossed for months in deadlines, strategies, timelines and milestones. I had barely spent any time appreciating the quality of what I was creating for myself (beyond thinking “What would the user think of this?”).

Now, we have reached the big milestone – The launch of Rize is at hand! Rize will be ready on iPhone, Android, Tablet and iPad for the 5th March..just a few weeks away. I’ve had a small bit of space to think. At first I panicked – thinking I should be filling this space in my brain with sales, marketing, strategies for maximising downloads – and although believe me I’m filling a lot of my time with this still I’ve found that these parts of work just won’t fit in the space I’m describing.

So I took the advice of my ever patient girlfriend and tried this relaxing thing all the kids are talking about. I started to reflect on every thing I’ve achieved (and admittedly began to stress over everything I haven’t).

The most important thing is that I’ve come back to looking at my product – the app – and have started congratulating myself on getting here. I’m now starting to get great feedback from the beta testers of Rize. Through the talks I’ve been giving to large audiences people have reached out to me and suggested potential partnerships with existing health platforms. I’ve even been invited to pitch Rize to the Duke of Edinburgh at an event called ‘Pitch at the Palace’! We’ve been featured in Cambridge News and the Huffington Post and our twitter followers increase steadily by the day.

I may not have started to generate revenue yet – I don’t have an apartment of my own like I had hoped for, I’m still considering the sainsburys meal deal as the treat of the week, but I’ve still come a long way. For that I’m proud.

And into the future I plan to walk forwards, hand in hand with my new tool for mental well-being. And together we will see what the world has in store for us.

[Rize will be available on all major iOS and Android platforms on 5th March. In order to stay up to date and be the first ones to download it please follow us on twitter: @rizenow]

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Impatience!

8 Sep

Hi all,

This is going to be more of a frustrated rant more than a piece of writing that will add any value to the lives of people reading this..unless they like to oversee a good old rant!

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For the last three days I’ve been mainly confined to my bedroom with boxes of orange juice and tissues. I complained yesterday to my girlfriend that I’d been out of work for the last two days..she patiently explained to me that it is what a lot of people tend to call a ‘weekend’.

Anyway it’s now Monday and I plan to be back into the office tomorrow..taking it slightly easier from now on so I stop running myself into the ground like this every few months.

In bed today I’ve been watching a few documentaries on start-ups:

Nothing to lose – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4g_Hq2pwao
Start up kids – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2279353/

 

During the second of these I began to feel a building frustration and impatience. I think it’s a feeling I’ve been keeping down for a long time. After a year now it’s starting to rise. I keep feeling like I’m playing a game on a really old computer with slow internet…whenever I press a button (or make a business/product decision) I have to wait weeks, or months for the result.

This is the painful part of having a startup where you are having to bootstrap and cannot create the product yourself..you must wait. And it sucks.

The way I’m trying to remedy this is by focusing on preparing the next steps – i.e. the next product development costs, monetisation strategies.

I’ve also started working on an online course – ’30 days of mental well-being’ – publishing on Udemy. This is probably what made me ill – I set a deadline of two months to complete the course and man has it been hard – creating lecture slides, recording audio’s, video instructions, interviews, quizzes, and text. It was all going well, and ahead of schedule and then I realised that my microphone had malfunctioned in recording 13 of the lectures! That made me really angry with myself. So I’ve taken these sick days to not think about it and try and come back to it tomorrow with a fresh head. I hope some of you guys will check it out when it’s ready! I’ll be posting it on my website – http://www.rizenow.com.

Speaking of the website – I decided to describe my personal journey from depression to start up in  video on my website, so feel free to take a look 🙂

 

So how about all of you…anyone else find similarmfrustrations in their work/relationships/lives?

 

 

 

Milestone snapshots!

28 Jun

I think today is a good day to take stock. It’s already been a rollercoaster ride of waking up with the birds, going to sleep with the bats, and even .. a day off along the way (dun dun duuunn!).

I’ve been running the motor pretty close to overheating, and I’ll be taking a four day holiday next week. I feel, with what I have achieved in this week especially that I put a flag in here and celebrate what successes I have made and how I’ve gotten here.

 

First off – I am now officially a MANAGING DIRECTOR peoplee! I got my certification of incorporation of a private limited company today – BlueSkies Collaboration Limited (http://blueskiesc.co.uk/). For me this is definitely a milestone moment, and something I will keep with me for a long time.
To be honest this doesn’t really affect how the enterprise will work compared to before, except people who might want to support BSc Ltd in the future will be able to make sure we’re a registered company.

 

For BlueSkies I held the second event. I have had a HUGE influx of conservation organisations from abroad get in touch and request support from BSc. The problem I’ve faced recently is getting people in Cambridge to want to come to the events I hold. The second event I held yesterday included myself and one other special person in a cafe.

At the beginning stages I really don’t see a low attendance as a failure; everything is a learning curve right now! I’ve learned I need to develop my own confidence in BSc so that I can start inviting people outside of my social circles of conservation, and really aim high for the events. I feel like after three events (one more) I’ll be confident to start approaching the Directors of organisations and talk to them about them, and their staff attending.

In order to do some networking I attended the Cambridge Conservation Forum Summer Symposium – there was a lot of opportunity to meet new professionals, and get my flashy new business cards out! All in all i enjoyed the symposium, but as is with Cambridge sometimes there’s a lot of talking, and then talking about action, and then a wine reception. Sometimes I find this really frustrating, but what can I do? What can we all do when people just talking annoys us? we can either 1) call them out and/or 2) act ourselves and lead by example.

 

Now for the other projects – Music.

I have been cold calling the sh*t out of Cambridge pubs and bars. I’ve had so many no’s now I was starting to wonder if I should stop trying but finally yes’s are starting to leak through. It’s a very low percentage, but I’ve already got five gigs lined up in the Cambridge area for my acoustic stuff; one of which I already performed and have been asked to come back again soon! So, true to my last post, the success here has lied in two things – Persistance, and also Preparation – to prepare for the cold calling I made sure I had done a few radio performances so the general public were talking about me more, and I put some new songs of mine online so pubs and bars could check out what I was offering with maximum ease. All I could have done better is if I had have brought round a CD of my music for them to listen to, or literally have gone round with my guitar and shown them first hand! 😀

 

As for the Game project – after months of trying to recruit a programmer who will work for free (a share of the final profits instead of paid by the hour) I’ve had a number of positive responses from people wanting to get involved. I actually stood one of them up for a meeting yesterday evening because I fell asleep (DOH!), but one guy said he’d like to do the project to expand his portfolio. I’ve also been trying to get a mental health professional on board so we can make this game really effective; I had a very constructive talk with one such guy today, who seems again interested in being part of the team. So maybe in two weeks I’ll actually have the full team recruited to make this product, and get it out to market by the Autumn!!

Finally the app – our programmer has all the updates on IOS7 and we will be constructing it properly when I get back from holiday.

 

So this week – it has been very tough. Now that all four projects are developing and I’m having to arrange meetings day and night for all of them. Along with gigging to pay rent it means I’m left feeling pretty stretched! It may mean as these four projects develop I have to give one up for someone else to run, or become much better at prioritising. This is especially true with emails – I need to have a forwarding system so that I have different folders in which to categorise things. At the moment having 100 emails to just sift through and reply to does not work! I’ll let you all know if I find a useful way of doing this.

Tonight I’m going to the first part of a three day workshop at the Entrepreneurial department of Cambridge University business school. It’s going to be intensive but I’m sure I’ll get a lot out of it. Come Monday I’ll be writing a full piece on how it went.

 

What are the main points of this article? – First of all I’m lathering up my own ego with oodles of well done sauce.

Secondly is to allow those who have been reading for a while to see the progression that has come to my projects through consistent hard work and persistence so far – paying rent through the music, registered company – being contacted for help by so conservation organisations ranging over seven different countries. I have almost recruited two full teams of people without spending or offering a single penny from my account. I’ve shared my vision, and brought together people who believe in it enough to dedicate their time for free! 

— All of this is not because I’m especially good at any skills required to do this. If anything I’m probably making more mistakes than the average person. If I can acheive these things you all can too if you ever choose to take the dive.

 

Thirdly I’m starting to learn – don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Try to stick to a handful of projects that you believe in – if I had any more than 4 I’d already have burned out completely. Stay focused on the aspirations you have closest to you, and don’t stretch yourself too thin!!

Happy condensing!

 

 

 

Persistence is a good key

14 Jun

Alright that’s it that .. last orders for the end of my first week!

Number of hours worked – 40

money made from projects this week – £0

Jaw dropper I know! But that’s how it is and that’s how it’s going to be for quite a while. Fortunately I’ve saved up sufficient money, and I’m spending basically nothing (I’m quite the catch, I know!). These projects are less tuned towards make a quick buck, and more to planting a seed for a big tree: a slow process of developing towards an effective person who is eventually able to create very valuable services/products/etc. I’ve realised if I stick with worrying about money at this time in my life I might very likely end up in a random, possibly half-enjoyable job and still be fairly poor from spending anyway (see Parkinson’s law for more details), maintain some possible security, and probably be happy.

Happy? Secure? Nahh .. I’ve decided to invest my time and energy into personal botany. My vision is that if I slowly develop the skills I want on such an open canvass as entrepreneurship, I’ll be able to become the person I want to be to a larger degree of freedom instead of having a stick up my backside – metaphorically – that makes me develop in the standard career-ladder way. I’m not saying I’m right in this hypothesis; just that I’m giving it a try. Hopefully this experiment will help you guys to see if it is correct or not from your own evaluations.

I’ve just written a list of the main things I’ve accomplished this week. It may not seem like much, but still I’m proud because every one of these things I’ve done, I’ve done through my own initiative, perseverance, and camomile tea. Here’s what I got done (see ‘projects’ for background details):

Project 1 – Social project:

– Created social media sites for BSc

I suggest that everyone goes and likes these pages .. they will make all of your dreams come true

..

One of my weaknesses is definitely keeping up with social media. I’ve never done twitter before, and I don’t much see the point in Linkedin as of yet. My facebook has no likes and I’m not sure how to change that. But my aim for this week was to get them up. Maybe next week will be to get 10 likes, or twoots, or linkin vouchers, or whatever it is.
But you see – One step gets done (put up the site), next week it’s get ten connections, next week will be a step up. So long as you can keep progressing, and resting/going easy on yourself when required, your projects will become stronger. If your project takes a knock, take a breath, stand back up, and YOU will be stronger.

 – Got the website ready:

I’ve filled in all the content, and set up emails for the website. I have no idea what photos to put up for the website. I know it sounds like a small thing but it’s bugged me the whole week and I haven’t got anything done. I’ve gotten to the end of the week so I’m going to stick with what pictures I have and update them when I’ve got inspiration..sometimes it helps to be an imperfectionist to get things done. All I need now is to link the social media and publish the site. So keep your eyes open for blueskiesc.co.uk next week!

– I wrote a formal report for OFI concerning our first event. Awaiting their response.

– Reached out to other conservation organisations to take part in our next events coming up.

– Trying to buy lots of BlueSkies t-shirts to give to people who volunteer their time..turns out that’s very expensive..looks like I might have to start looking for some small funding.

 

Project 2 – Game project

Very little. Because this game is to do with anxiety and depression in the public it means I’m going to need professionals on board for this. This seems like a very big ask.

 – I’ve already contacted one person who seems to have some good content http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/ (there’s a lot of wishy-washy, or just fake ‘life coaching’ things out there to be wary of). She says she’s too busy unfortunately but wished the best of luck. So I’ll continue looking..this is going to be difficult but I will continue trying next week.

 – I’m meeting up with a game/app designer this evening who I get on really well with. He loves the idea and so I think I have a great partner here for the project. We’ll discuss the display and asthetics of the content for him to create.

 – Recruiting a programmer: now this is more difficult. Programmers tend to be pretty well paid, and are less up for accepting shares of a project. I’ve been to numerous events in cambridge to do with gaming and apps. I’ve met some great and talented people but yet to find one who believes enough in the idea to dedicate their time. This week I emailed a few of them..have one potential guy to meet in two weeks but.. The search continues!

 

Project 3 – App project:

This week I wrote up the main content of the app that the users will be reading. I had a meeting with the programmer today and we added it into our basic skeleton draft we have of the app. Now if there are any enthusiasts of iphones here you’ll know that IOS7 is soon to be coming out. There are a couple of features on this that we are planning to use that may be very exciting..however we have to wait a couple of weeks before I can get him onto programming because of this.

 

Project 4 – Personal project (Music):

 – Band gigs: I got one potential gig for us coming up through the phone call I described in the last post. Fortunately the bassist and singer are great at finding gigs. So we have quite a few lined up.

 – Acoustic gigs: Now this is where I’m really proud. If this is your first read of my blog you’ll now see this is a big aspiration of mine – to start making money from my own original music. What I did this week was that I located a pub/bar map of Cambridge on the internet and divided the map into sections. I then called a quarter of all of the pubs and bars in Cambridge (A LOT of pubs) and asked if they were interested in my performing at their venue. I got a lot of positive responses. They said they’d listen to me playing on BBC Cambridge this weekend and then decide after! A really great step for me. I hated cold calling but it paid off in this instance.

Guitar lessons – This is probably what’s going to pay the rent. Put an ad on gumtree and with a lessons agency. If I get three or four a week then I’m all good!

 

Now why did my subject title highlight persistence when I’ve barely talked about this in my post as of yet? Congratulations on reading this far because now you’ll be rewarded.

This week so far, every day, at least 5-10 times, I think to myself “What the hell are you doing man?? You’re not making any money whatsoever..you’re just a bum with a Linkedin profile!” Indeed I am at the moment. But letting this trail of inner conversation go further than this doesn’t help me. I’m looking to develop myself in a new way, and hopefully be successful in doing so.

When I was really down and out; no job, no motivation, no idea what to do, I pretty much thought those thought were ME. I even tried going to a life coach for two sessions to help me sort things out. Now I believe there are a lot of good ones out there who do amazing things for people and are very talented in what they do, and please go out and form your own opinions. My opinion is that there are lot of people out there who get into over charging for a service they learned to ‘sell’ and provide, from an institution that was made by someone else who didn’t really know what they’re doing. There is a big mix of good and bad so if you want to try something like this just take your time and be objective: identify what useful things you get from a session and decide if it’s worth the cost.

Anyway I learned one very valuable thing. When I start having negative thoughts that aren’t helping me, it helps me to become aware of this, and say to myself “what do I want and how am I going to get it?” “what do I want and how am I going to get it?”. It can be very simple “I want to be warm, so I’m going to have a hot drink”, “I’m lonely so I’m going to call someone I care about”, etc. I recommend to everyone try doing that 5 times a day for a week and just see what happens. It was a helpful tool for me, maybe it could help someone else 🙂

My perseverance is in every time I had my thoughts that I’m wasting my time this week, I brought my attention to what I want to get done and how I’m going to do it. This has helped me a lot this week, and I’m sure will be invaluable in this initial process of getting started.

Anyone else with any similar thoughts that take over sometimes and get in the way of what they want in life I wish them the very best of luck, and would like to give a gentle reminder that those thoughts (in my opinion) aren’t you. What is you is something probably a lot wiser, kinder, and stronger. Go ahead and find it.

And with that new wisdom and strength find your path.

Happy exploring!